Biden's $3.5T Climate Change Plan makes up for lost time

As President Joe Biden visited a disaster site in each state this summer, from California wildfires to hurricane-induced flooding Louisiana and New York, he stated that climate change was "everybody’s crisis" and that America must be serious about the "code Red" threat posed by global warming.

Biden's $3.5T Climate Change Plan makes up for lost time

The president is making up time in many ways.

Biden and Democrats want a $3.5 trillion federal overhaul. This would include landmark measures to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and address climate change. It would be the most important environmental policy ever enacted.

After the previous administration pulled out of the Paris climate agreement -- a 2015 global effort to combat climate change -- the U.S. is back in the arena with Biden promising world leaders that the U.S. would reduce carbon pollution by half by 2030.

However, the success of Biden's climate goals is dependent in large part upon passage of the Democratic Package. It will require the White House's strength to reach a deal between progressive and centrist lawmakers. This includes disputes over the climate provisions.

Rep. Jared Huffman (D-Calif.) said that Biden's legacy is at this place.

The proposals regarding climate change are being a problem for Democrats as they rush to complete a package that covers almost every aspect of American life. This is especially true among key centrist lawmakers.

Separately, the president met Tuesday with Democratic Senators. As Democrats work to reduce the overall cost of the package and garner support, Joe Manchin from West Virginia and Kyrsten Silena from Arizona met separately. Democrats are unable to get enough votes as Republicans support the plan.

"This is Speaker Pelosi’s grand socialist agenda, to destroy freedom and empower our enemies on behalf of American families," said Rep. Cathy McMorris Rogers, Washington state's top Republican on House Energy and Commerce panel.

The climate provisions are a key component of the bill for many Democrats and the voters who elected them. According to The Associated Press-NORC Center for Public Affairs Research, 83% of Democrats are concerned about climate change compared to 21% among Republicans.

"This is a code red moment, but Democrats have answered the call," stated Rep. Kathy Castor (D-Florida), chairwoman of a House special committee on climate change.

Castor stated Tuesday at the Capitol that "our only hope of avoiding catastrophe is to act quickly -- to act immediately." Castor called climate change "a present and clear danger for American families facing devastating heat waves, floods, and failed electric grids as well as historic wildfires."

She stated that the Democratic plan will make significant investments in clean energy and climate resilience, as well as environmental justice. "This must be done right.

The legislation includes a national clean-electricity program, which is designed to eliminate climate-damaging fossil fuel emission from U.S. power stations by 2035. This is in addition to the requirements that have been set in some states.

It would cost billions to build 500,000 electric vehicle charging stations, and to upgrade the power grid to be more resilient to hurricanes.

This measure would also create a New Deal style Civilian Climate Corps to unleash an army of young people for public lands restoration and other projects.

Frank Pallone (D-N.J.), Energy and Commerce Chair, stated that "the climate crisis is here" and that inaction will lead to a catastrophic outcome. In 2020, the United States suffered 22 weather and climate disasters that resulted in losses of more than $1 billion. Hurricane Ida, and other recent disasters, are likely to cause additional losses in the tens of millions.

Thursday's House vote on a $1 trillion bipartisan Infrastructure Bill addresses some of these priorities. It includes money for climate resilience and water system upgrades, as well as other provisions.

Progressive Democrats argue that a more comprehensive approach is necessary if the U.S. is to reach Biden's goal to cut its greenhouse gas emissions by half. This would leave both packages in limbo while talks continue behind closed doors.

Huffman, a progressive member of the caucus, said that "it's about livability on this planet."

Manchin, however, has stated that he won't support many clean energy or climate provisions. Manchin, the powerful chair of the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee has pledged to protect the jobs in his state's coal and gas-producing states and stated that the Democratic bill's price tag is too high. After the White House meeting, Manchin stated that he didn't give Biden a new topline number.

Sinema and Manchin are not the only ones raising objections. Seven Texas House Democrats said that provisions in the Democratic plan could lead to thousands of job losses in the energy sector and raise energy prices for Americans.

In a letter addressed to Nancy Pelosi, Texas lawmakers stated that "these taxes and fees, along with the exclusion natural gas production from clean-energy initiatives constitute punitive practices." Reps. Henry Cuellar and Vicente Gonzalez signed the letter, as well as Sylvia Garcia, Marc Veasey and Filemon Vela.

The Biden package will provide more than $600billion to combat climate change and lower greenhouse gases emissions. It is funded largely by taxes on corporations and the wealthy, in keeping with Biden's promise not to increase taxes on those earning less than $400,000 per year.

A carbon tax is one way to raise revenues. Ron Wyden of Oregon, the chairman of the Senate Finance Committee said Monday that he was working on legislation to make polluters pay for climate crisis costs.

Wyden and others are aware of Biden’s promise not to impact Americans' pockets. Wyden stated that the carbon tax was being considered as one of many options.

The overall package has been praised by environmental groups, who called it a unique opportunity that comes once in a generation.

Matthew Davis, League of Conservation Voters, stated that "Investing in clean energy technologies is one of our best options to create jobs for regular people right away while reaping long-term rewards and a healthier earth for decades to come."

Davis and other advocates stated that the clean-energy standard could alone create millions of jobs and drive the U.S. electric sector towards zero-carbon emissions.

Democrats believe that approval of the bill is vital with elections just around the corner.

Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI) said that "if we miss this moment", referring to Democratic control over Congress and the White House, "it's not clear when will we have a second chance."

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